Student Experience: Study Abroad and Internship by Friday Chikwala

Friday Chikwala is an international student studying Economics at iCLA. Originally from Zambia, Friday is now in his 4th year of study. He has recently returned from Canada after participating in iCLA’s Study Abroad Program in his third year from 2018 to 2019. Friday was studying at one of iCLA’s 55+ partner universities, St. Francis Xavier University, located in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Friday has also recently won 2nd Place in the 16th Yamanashi International Students Japanese Speech Contest.

I would like to talk a little about my study abroad and internship experiences and how it helped me to shape my life.

Last year in August, I went to study abroad in Canada at St. Francis Xavier University for one year as part of iCLA’s Study Abroad Program. I wasn’t sure about my purpose of going there, but I was interested in experiencing life in Canada. Canada is a very cold country compared to my home country, Zambia, and Japan. However, I found a way to enjoy the cold by participating in a lot of sports activities like ice skating and snowboarding. That was amazing.

The most important experiences I had in Canada were the courses I took there. I had an opportunity to take courses that are different from the courses at iCLA. I am studying economics, and so I was interested in economics-related courses. Instead of taking pure economics courses, I took courses on economic development. These courses helped me to see another side of economics. I found that I’m more interested in economic development than in general economics. Also, I was given a chance to participate in St. Francis Xavier University’s Immersion Service Learning program. In this program, I was placed in an organization where I could apply the knowledge I learned in class in a practical way.

Under the Immersion Service Learning program, I was assigned with a community development project to business plan for a recreation center. I learned a lot from this project.

The chance of participating in the Immersion Service Learning program helped me to want to apply my learned skills more. While I was still studying abroad I started to look for internship opportunities.

As I said before, I’m interested in development economics. I looked for an internship in that area. With help from the Ashinaga Foundation, I was able to find an internship in agribusiness in Ghana. It was a three-month internship where I led three projects. The first project was about developing a farm plan that would help farmers transform their farms into business. The second project was about developing a loan system to support farms with their farm activities. The third project was about creating a committee that could help to eradicate child labor in the cocoa industry of Ghana. These varieties of projects helped me to apply my knowledge from the classes I took in iCLA and on Study Abroad. It was an eye-opening opportunity.

In summary, thanks to the study abroad and internship experiences I was able to decide what my graduation thesis will be and what I want to do after graduation. I want to write my graduation thesis on microfinance services and agriculture in Africa. This will help me to open doors for my aspirations for going to graduate school in agribusiness after I graduate from my bachelor’s degree. All in all, my experiences were very positive.

See our Study Abroad page to learn more about iCLA’s Study Abroad Program.